New uniforms are on the horizon for the Montville Police Department, after a policy is written to determine when and how they should be worn.
The policy, which the Public Safety Commission decided on Monday should be written, will focus on the new Class C uniforms. Currently, there is not a Class C uniform, just the dress uniform (class A) and the regular patrol uniform (class B).
The two uniforms in the running are more paratrooper-style than the current outfits. The pants are like cargo pants, with pockets on the side of the leg, in addition to at the waist. There are buttoned chest pockets on the shirt, as well.
The uniform the union prefers, according to Officer Mike Manley, who spoke at the Public Safety Commission meeting, has vents under the arms and is waterproof. It is manufactured by a company called Elbeco and was modeled Monday by Officer Travis Sumpf.
Manley said that an internal police committee preferred the other uniform, modeled Monday by Officer Matthew Orr, and manufactured by a company called Blauer. Manley said the union would be happy with either uniform.
The cost of the uniforms, two for all officers except Lt. Leonard Bunnell, is $5,412, said Manley. That price includes all embroidery and patches. The money is in the budget already, he said.
A nylon gear belt, like the one Orr was wearing, is another item the department wants. It is much lighter than the leather belt, and much more flexible. The cost of these belts for the department, including Bunnell, would be $6,621 and if approved, would be phased in over two years.
Both uniforms have the officer’s name, the Montville Police patch and the officer’s badge embroidered on the chest. With these uniforms, officers would not wear the metal badge, a fact that they said they liked. The officers said that the badge itself can cause problems, if a suspect grabs it or grabs for it.
A point of consternation in the discussion was headgear. Orr wore a baseball cap with an identifying patch on the front. Commission Chairman David Jetmore and others said that in a moment of stress, in a nighttime pursuit for instance, the baseball-style cap could cause identification issues.
“It’s tough for me to change my mind on what has been,” he said. “We do need some way to recognize instantly in that moment of decision.”
Bunnell said that while he was in favor of adding this new class of uniform, “I’ve clear I am not going to recommend totally this uniform. I want to see the eight-point hat with the C and with the B.”
Manley and commission member Russ Wehner said that across the country, officers are wearing baseball-style caps with patrol uniforms.
Resident State Trooper Sgt. Troy Gelinas said that the question is whether the officers will wear the cap.
“The hat’s not going to do you any good sitting in the car,” he said. “It’s a practical uniform, and what it comes down to is practicality. I hate to see you spend money on a hat that sits in the car.”
A representative of the department, with input from Mayor Ron McDaniel, will write a policy governing Class C uniforms, and return to the commission next month.